Butterflies, birds, bees, bats, and beetles are pollinators. They transfer pollen to fertilize plants. Every third bite of food you eat grew because of pollination to a seed-producing plant. Your morning coffee and blueberry muffin, lunch salad, and chocolate-covered almonds are foods enjoyed thanks to pollinators.
Perennials for All Seasons
Set a buffet of overlapping blooms from spring through fall. Choose from perennials, herbs, and ornamental grasses. Add some native plants to be most effective and feed a diverse population of pollinators. Just getting started? We suggest choosing 3 perennials in spring, a different set of 3 in summer, and another set of 3 in fall for a variety of plentiful blooms. For instance, Allium blooms April-May, Monarda flowers June-August, and Sedum blooms June-Sept. Try native varieties of Asclepias, Asters, Baptisia, Lobelia, and Rudbeckia for additional food, shelter, and color in your pollinator garden. Swallowtail caterpillars eat parsley and dill herb plants. Monarchs will only lay their eggs on Asclepias.
Annuals to Fill the Gap
Annual flowers provide beautiful displays in containers and borders. More importantly to the pollinators, they bring nourishment between perennial plant blooming times. Annuals will not go dormant and survive our winter like perennials, but with so many varieties to choose from, including tropicals and vegetables, you are sure to find a few favorites! Three long-blooming annuals to bring butterflies and hummingbirds into view include Petunias, Angelonia, and Salvia.
Trees and Shrubs for Nesting and Resting
Bees and beetles nest in pithy stems of shrubs such as Sumac and Dogwood, as well as ornamental perennial grasses. Birds feed their babies insects off tree and shrub leaves near the nest. Flowering trees and shrubs are some of the first flowers of spring, providing much needed nectar early in the season. Native oaks and evergreens offer a habitat and winter shelter. Planting a variety of shrubs, flowering trees, and evergreens provides cover, nutrition, and a place to rest. All pollinators need water so adding a bird bath with rocks for butterflies to perch is attractive to humans and our pollinator friends.
Sample Pollinator Garden
June 22-28 is designated National Pollinator Week. As gardeners, we are here to educate on what you can do to celebrate and protect pollinators in your home environment. Planting for pollinators is easy. They are attracted to an abundance of nectar-producing, fragrant, colorful flowers. Tubular flowers hold more nectar, and both hummingbirds and butterflies love them. Plant continuous blooms from a variety of colorful plants throughout the growing season.